Fire and rescue service staff support vaccination rollout

Vaccination sites around Cambridgeshire are being supported by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service staff pitching in to help with getting residents immunised against COVID-19.

Staff from across all areas of the service, from emergency call handlers and support staff to fire officers and both on-call and wholetime firefighters, have all been giving help at vaccination sites.

Group Commander Wayne Swales, the officer coordinating the support project, said, “The response from our staff has been really impressive so far, it’s been great to see colleagues from different parts of the service wanting to get involved. We are really proud of our staff and what we have achieved already.

“We’ve been asked to provide help in various ways. For example, assisting staff at some of the primary care network sites with things like marshalling in the car parks and showing patients where they need to go. We’ve also been helping with the setup of the two large-scale sites in Cambridge and Peterborough. Now these are open we’ll have volunteers at these centres giving support.

“Staff volunteering so far have found the experience really rewarding. Many of the people coming to be vaccinated have been shielding in their homes for long periods, with a trip to be vaccinated their only reason for stepping outside. Being there for these residents, providing a friendly face and checking their welfare before and after getting their vaccine, really is fulfilling.”

Dr Gary Howsam, Chair of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, said, “We have always worked closely with our partners across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and it’s fantastic to get support from Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service as the NHS delivers the biggest vaccination programme in its history. We wouldn’t be able to vaccinate our most vulnerable patients with the help from our volunteers and we’re incredibly grateful.”

In the last week or so, the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has provided more than 400 hours of help to the vaccination programme across all the sites. This is in addition to ensuring there are enough crewed fire engines around the county.

Wayne added, “Clearly we need to balance our core responsibilities as a fire and rescue service and helping with the national vaccination effort. We’ve made sure that we have enough crews available to respond to emergencies while offering our partners this level of support.

“The pandemic has presented us all with unprecedented challenges. Rolling out a vaccine to everyone around the country is massive challenge, so we are determined to pitch in and do our bit to help. Our staff have already shown their enthusiasm and willingness to step forward and help their communities and will continue to support this vital programme over the coming months.”